Inequities

We’re coming to the tail end of the end of year festivities for the kids. I have a few more days of work. The house needs massive cleaning before the in-laws visit. I have to map out a plan for food on Saturday. I need to make sure that Jonah has a clean white shirt for his graduation to go with his white tux jacket.

The boys here all graduate wearing white tux jackets and black bow ties; the girls are in white formal dresses. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 30’s. The kids all look marvelous and sophisticated for their big day, like they are ready for cocktails at a mansion on the Hamptons.

After the photos with parents, the kids are whisked away to dinner and dancing. Later, they are locked away for the night in the local middle school, which has been transformed into a magical palace by parents who have spent a year constructing sets based on a theme of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. One parent constructed a twelve-foot portrait of Gene Wilder out of jelly beans and post it notes. After the night of PG fun, the kids run over to the town pool and skinny dip.

The price tag for that one night of fun? $160,000.

It’s a nice night for the kids, but that’s a lot of money. And the time that went into constructing these sets could have been spent in a much more productive way. Right here in the same town, there are hundreds of special ed kids who could some reading tutoring. Twenty minutes from here, there are kids in Newark who need a whole lot of help.

Jonah is going off to college with private school sophistication. He and his classmates look years older than his peers in other towns. They hold themselves straight. They have no body fat or zits. They look adults in the eye and ask the right questions. They feel comfortable in a tux. Jonah knows how to order food in fancy restaurants and joins his friends at their million dollar shore houses. He is utterly comfortable in those settings. Those skills will serve him well in the future, so, as a mom, I’m happy. But when I put on my social justice hat, I feel ill.

This is privilege. It’s not so much the education. Jonah’s education has been hit or miss. Jonah’s math teacher isn’t getting tenure, so she stopped working back in January. She gave all the kids 100s on their finals, which they didn’t take. Tutors work behind the scenes teaching the kids their math facts and helping them cram history facts to pass the AP exams. So the kids here end up with a better education than kids in other public schools, but it’s not solely because of the quality of the schools. What they really gain from this town and living in this rich people’s bubble are soft skills that later translate into posh jobs in the city.

These kids buy themselves out of the guilt by volunteering strategically and with well constructed essays for their Freshman lit classes. But it’s not enough.

Massively Burnt

I am massively burnt out. Yesterday, I cleared my plate of all work obligations to get my head back together. I wasn’t totally happy with those projects anyway, and they had begun to hang around my neck like a week-old sausage necklace.

So, this morning, for like the first time in months and months, I don’t have any responsibility. The family chores are done, and there are no interviews to schedule. What ever shall I do? Nada.

I’m answering some e-mail, finishing this blog post, and then going out for a long walk. I’m enjoying the moment. Because things will get awful again soon. I couldn’t find a proper camp for Ian this year, so I signed him up for half a dozen short activities – swim lessons, Kumon, music, summer school, computing classes, horseback riding lessons. The last two weeks of August will be band camp at his school; if my mom can’t help out, I’ll have to drive four hours a day for that one.

Driving has also gotten tricky around here, because we only have two cars, and Jonah is using Steve’s commuter car to get to his summer job. So, I need to pick up Steve at the train station at 6:30 every day.  Most of the time, I’m cool with it, but yesterday, I kinda flipped out on him, because I was juggling a whole lot of parenting chores that day.  I may or may not have ranted for a full forty minutes about the goddamn Pony Power medical release form.

Jonah’s new job as a bus boy at a local restaurant is working out. He loves being the young guy who gossips about soccer with the bartender and listens to the waitresses bitch about each other. 

Those half-finished French fries and barely touched steak that got sent back to the kitchen? Yeah. Jonah ate it. He feels no shame.

And the next time that you rely on wikipedia for information, I want you to keep in the mind that Ian has apparently become a wikipedia editor and is inputting information. He won’t admit which pages he’s changed, because he thinks he’s in trouble. Steve figured it out what was going on, after examining the search history on his internet browser.

I’m really glad that we’re in summer-mode. Even with the driving problems, I need something new. After I go for my walk, I’m going to throw open the windows, blast some music, and clean the house. I love changes.

Comey’s Testimony

So, let’s talk Comey. I watched the whole thing this morning, along with another bazillion hours of CNN commentary.  I’m going to dash out some quick thought tonight, because I’ll be at Jonah’s college tomorrow helping him pick out his classes for the fall.

  • Comey was very, very impressive. Even when he admitting his failures, he came off as very likable.
  • Russia interfered with our elections. Full stop. That wasn’t a grey area. There is “no fuzz” on that statement. They fucked with our elections. At the very least, that is strongest statement that we’ve heard to date. I want to know more.
  • Donald Trump is a toddler who has no idea about how DC politics works. He used to Jersey and New York City style politics where loyalty-shit means a lot. This is how business and politics happens here. There are no rules. Politics is a family business here. Trump does not understand that he can’t do that in Washington.
  • Ryan said Trump is new to politics and is learning the rules. But that’s no excuse. He’s the president. And ignorance of the law is never a defense for breaking law.
  • They don’t have enough evidence for obstruction of justice. They don’t. Trump did try to obstruct the Flynn investigation, but they can’t prove it.
  • Why did Trump try to push Comey off of Flynn’s trail? Is it because Trump just liked Flynn and wanted to help him out? Or was there something more? Right now, I think Trump just liked Flynn.
  • There is no evidence that Trump knew anything about Russian interference. I don’t think he knew that Russians were involved and had any hand in it. Trump doesn’t want to admit to this interference, because it taints his win and that’s all he cares about.
  • Trump is in trouble just the same. Big trouble. The news cycle is all Comey, Comey, Comey. And Comey did paint Trump in a very damaging light. Trump came off as a weirdo, an ass, a loose cannon, a child, and all those things that we already knew about him. But now more people know it.
  • McCain? Drugs?
  • Loretta Lynch is in trouble now, too. And so is Clinton.
  • The conservatives are spinning all this to say that Lynch is corrupt, too and Comey is a weakling, so let’s not talk about anything else.

 

Back Again

Hello, all. Thanks for your patience. I had to take a blog and writing hiatus for a few weeks, because of life. There have been many milestones for my family — a prom, an anniversary, a concert, a prom — and I had to make the milestones the priority.

I’m still not entirely done. We successfully got Ian and Steve on the bus at 5:30 am for an eighth grade class trip to DC. Tomorrow, Jonah turns 18. He started his first job busing tables at a restaurant last night. On Friday, we go back to his college to register for classes. Then I have to get Jonah some black pants and shoes for his high school graduation. There’s the graduation ceremony, a family bbq, and college orientation coming up, too.

It’s all good stuff, but getting everyone at the right place at the right time with the right clothes requires a lot of organization and lists. I’ll post pictures when I get the time to download the camera.

This morning, I’m having some panic attacks. I’m neurotic and that’s what I do. I’m desperately worried about life after these milestones. What’s going to happen when Jonah goes to college? School has structured our lives in the suburbs for thirteen years. His sporting events and school functions have filled our calendar and formed our social groups. What happens when that structure is gone?

Yes, we still have Ian here, but it’s not the same. He’s a special ed kid who goes to a public school about thirty minutes away. Special ed kids never get access to those same events, particularly when their schools are far away. He does do a lot of activities, because his brain never shuts down, and I need to keep him busy as much as I can. But his activities usually involve me waiting in a waiting room or in the parking lot. They are not social events. He’ll be in the marching band next year, so I suppose we’ll have that.

So, what will life be like in the suburbs without a typical kid to participate in community events? Will it be boring and lonely?

A number of Jonah’s friends’ families are moving a couple of days after graduation. Nobody wants to pay New Jersey taxes for a week longer than they must. One family is moving to Missouri. Another to Michigan. Once the kids are done with their education, there is no reason to stay.

We aren’t moving for a while, at least while Ian is still in school. My extended family is all here within 20 minutes of our home. Steve’s job is in the city. In fact, in the midst of all this, I’m also planning a kitchen renovation for this fall. So, I’ll suppose I’ll fill our social gaps with more work and volunteer activities. I’m sure it will be fine, but the suburbs are a weird place, and it’s hard to know whether or not we’ll still feel at home here in a few months.

Well, I’ll do some proper blogging this week. There’s the Comey testimony tomorrow. Yay! I know people who are having viewing parties at their homes. We’ll just hang out here and have fun.